2015 Chrysler sedan a step up from past models

The 2015 Chrysler 200 midsize sedan is a complete do-over of the original model introduced in 2010, which was subjected to more than its fair share of tepid reviews. Not only does the car now ride on a much better Alfa Romeo-based chassis, but it also sports an eye-catching exterior that blends gracefulness with a tinge of muscle.

Trim levels include LX, Limited, S, and C. Additionally, there are all-wheel-drive versions of the S and C models. The AWD system is not full time; it kicks in when necessary.

A new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard. It directs energy to the front wheels and delivers 184 horsepower, 173 lb-ft of torque and a fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city, 36 mpg highway. Compared to the 200’s previous four-cylinder, these figures represent a 6-percent power boost, 10-percent torque increase, and 13-percent improvement in fuel economy.

Chrysler’s stalwart Pentastar V6 is optional on Limited and C models with front-wheel drive, but standard with all-wheel drive. The engine is rated at 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and uses regular fuel. Fuel economy numbers are 19 mpg city, 32 mpg highway with FWD and 18/29 mpg with AWD.

Separating the Chrysler 200 from others in the large flock of midsize sedans is a nine-speed automatic transmission, a world’s first for the flock. It’s standard on all models. The gearshift is a classy, space-saving rotary knob located on the center console. Paddle shifters are included on S models, as well as the C with AWD; they’re optional on the C with FWD.

My tester was a four-cylinder 200C with FWD. The smaller engine and nine-speed transmission aren’t the most suitable partners. A tiny bit of lurching takes place when accelerating after a stop, and at highway speeds the tranny might show some very mild symptoms of indecisiveness. I drove the V6 at an automotive media event. It and the nine-speed are a more compatible couple. But I’m not trashing the four. It has plenty of power, most drivers won’t even notice the little quirk, and certainly the four’s lower price and much better fuel economy are compelling reasons for choosing it over the smug six.

The 2015 200C has a comfortable, finely crafted interior composed of high quality materials. Controls are attractive, logically arranged, and simple. Stowage spaces are remarkable not only for their quantities but also their usefulness. I was able to neatly stow every item in my automotive gravitational field: purse, phone, phone charger, notebook, water bottle, Good to Go Pass, incoming and outgoing mail, pens, library book, Discover Pass, binoculars, and the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. All this without rendering the front passenger seat unoccupiable.

The big, clear 8.4-inch touchscreen in the tester’s optional Navigation and Sound Group 1 package ($1,395) will be appreciated by any user, but none more than those of the Journey and Jimi Hendrix generations whose visual acuity welcomes all the help it can get. A system that provided closed captioning for the car’s voice messages would be even more popular.

Also worthy of exaltation is how quickly the touchscreen responds when destination data is being input.

Most rear-seat passengers will be satisfied with the amount of space they’re allotted, but taller than average people might wish for more headroom.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is built in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Base pricing starts at only $22,695 (including a $995 destination charge), which is $95 less than the outgoing model.

2015 CHRYSLER 200C

Base price, including destination charge: $26,990

Price as driven: $30,475

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a board member of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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